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22 March 2001 Edition

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Roses for Rosemary

Paddy Kelly reads extracts from a speech from Nelson Mandela at the Mass for Rosemary Nelson in Clonard

Last Thursday 15 March, the second anniversary of her death, Rosemary Nelson was remembered in a moving yet sometimes defiant ceremony in Clonard Monastery in Belfast.

In her hometown of Lurgan, some 25 miles away, led by husband Paul and their three children, Rosemary's family - her father, mother, brothers and sisters, remembered her in a private service.

In Clonard, Fr Gerry Reynolds led a congregation of a couple of hundred in a tribute that was both religious and humane at the same time. In his opening remarks, Robbie McVeigh of the Rosemary Nelson Campaign praised Rosemary's qualities as a human being and recalled her commitment to justice, human rights and the human dignity of the individual. It was that commitment to justice and to the human dignity of her clients that led to Rosemary being assassinated by those same pro-British forces that have acted in the interest in the British state in Ireland.

Among the readings and readers were Sheila Livingstone, a Methodist, who read from Martin Luther King's Strength to Love, while Paddy Kelly of the Campaign recited extracts from Nelson Mandela's inaugural speech as the first president of a democratic South Africa.

However, it was the Procession of Roses for Rosemary that was the most moving part of the ceremony. From throughout the world organisations and individuals sent bouquets to show their support for an independent, international judicial inquiry into all the circumstances surrounding her killing. Up to 60 children presented roses at the altar, representing the cases, causes and issues that Rosemary worked for.

Eibhlín Corbett carried a bouquet from the Brehon Law Society on behalf of the Finucane family. They called for a full independent inquiry into Pat Finucane's killing.

There were flowers from the families of others killed by state forces and their loyalist allies. Some of the bouquets came from as far away as California.

In the congregation were Richard Harvey, a barrister representing some of the Bloody Sunday families, Sinn Féin Assembly member Dara O'Hagan, who was a close friend of Rosemary's, as well as representatives of the Lower Ormeau, Springfield Road and Bellaghy residents groups.

 

Rosemary Nelson remembered



Calls for a full independent inquiry into the murder of human rights lawyer Rosemary Nelson were heard at events around the world to mark the second anniversary of her assassination.

A series of memorial services and demonstrations took place in Ireland, Britain, Australia, the US and Europe on Thursday, 15 March, to mark the second anniversary of Nelson's death in a car bomb attack.

Members of the Rosemary Nelson Campaign for Truth and Justice (Britain) held a vigil at Downing Street and a demonstration also took place in Birmingham city centre. In Belfast, a memorial service was held at Clonard Monastery, while in Portadown a service was held at Drumcree Community Centre. A Mass marking the deaths of both Rosemary Nelson and Pat Finucane was held in New York.

The British Labour Party's former Six-County spokesperson, Kevin McNamara, has tabled a motion in the House of Commons calling for an independent inquiry into Nelson's killing. ``For two-years to have elapsed since her murder with no adequate answers to allegations being made is deplorable,'' he said. ``The government cannot trade off this overdue investigation in negotiations with the political parties. It needs to act unilaterally.''

The motion notes that an independent inquiry has been supported by the Dublin government, the European Parliament, the US House of Representatives and Amnesty International.

But on the second anniversary of Nelson's assassination, the continuing police inquiry has been criticised as hopelessly inadequate. The Human Rights Commission, Sinn Féin and the Rosemary Nelson Campaign itself have doubted the probe's ability to unearth the truth.

Sinn Féin Upper Bann Assembly member Dara O'Hagan said the lack of progress was not surprising.

``A full independent public inquiry is required to ensure that all the relevant information relating to the planning, targeting and murder of Rosemary Nelson comes to light,'' she added. ``There is evidence that the RUC has been uncooperative with Port's investigation, to say the least, but clearly Colin Port is not in a position to move this case forward, it is time he came out and admitted as such.''

The Rosemary Nelson Campaign says only an independent inquiry can reveal the full facts surrounding her murder. ``The longer the Port investigation goes on without any apparent results the more profound questions are raised about its competency and basic ability to get anywhere in terms of truth and justice for Rosemary,'' a spokesperson said.

Professor Brice Dickson, Chief Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission, was critical of the Port investigation.

``The longer the criminal inquiry goes on in such an unproductive fashion the closer the Commission is to reaching the conclusion that only an independent public judicial inquiry will be able to ascertain the truth surrounding Rosemary Nelson's murder,'' he said. ``The fact that the murder was preceded by death threats allegedly made by members of the RUC gives the commission very serious cause for concern.''

But Norfolk deputy chief constable Colin Port insisted the investigation was ``active and ongoing.

``I still have many areas to investigate and our work is far from complete,'' he said.

 

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